Court of Appeals of Ohio, Seventh District, Mahoning
Appeal from the Court of Common Pleas of Mahoning County,
Ohio Case No. 2012 CR 1264
Plaintiff-Appellee: Atty. Paul J. Gains Mahoning County
Prosecutor Atty. Ralph M. Rivera Assistant Prosecuting
Defendant-Appellant: Atty. David J. Betras Atty. Frank L.
Cassese Betras, Kopp & Harshman LLC
Cheryl L. Waite Hon. Mary DeGenaro Hon. Carol Ann Robb
Appellant Jevon Prieto appeals an April 6, 2015 Mahoning
County Common Pleas Court decision denying a motion to
suppress evidence seized from his truck. Appellant argues
that the trial court erroneously denied the motion as the
officers did not have a warrant to search his truck and none
of the warrant exceptions applied. Additionally, Appellant
argues that the officers lacked probable cause to detain him.
For the reasons that follow, Appellant's arguments are
without merit and the judgment of the trial court is
and Procedural History
On December 1, 2012, the Youngstown Police Department
received a missing person report and officers went to speak
with the woman who filed the report. The woman told the
officers that she believed that Appellant had abducted the
victim. The woman described Appellant's vehicle as a
bright yellow Ford pickup truck. The officers were familiar
with Appellant and his vehicle. The officers drove to
Appellant's house to speak with him and saw the truck
parked in the driveway. The officers directed their spotlight
at the truck and saw Appellant sitting in the driver's
seat. A female companion was sitting in the passenger's
As the officers walked towards the truck, Appellant and his
companion left the truck and began walking towards the house.
The officers approached Appellant before he reached the house
and questioned him about the victim's disappearance.
Appellant denied involvement in the matter. During this
discussion, Officer George Anderson noticed that Appellant
was smoking a marijuana cigarette. At about the same time,
another officer saw loose marijuana lying on the front seat
of Appellant's truck. Officer Anderson asked Appellant
for the key to the truck, but Appellant refused. As Appellant
was becoming increasingly agitated, Officer Anderson
handcuffed him, stating that its purpose was officer safety.
Officer Anderson then called his supervisor, who told him to
retrieve the key from Appellant's person. Officer
Anderson found the key in Appellant's pocket and used it
to open the door of the truck. Once the door was opened, a
gun was immediately visible on the driver's seat floor.
Appellant was arrested and charged with one count of
improperly handling a firearm in a motor vehicle, a felony of
the fourth degree in violation of R.C. 2923.16(B), (I)(2),
and one count of having a weapon while under a disability, a
felony of the third degree in violation of R.C.
On February 10, 2014, Appellant filed a motion to suppress
the evidence. The trial court held a suppression hearing on
April 1, 2015. Officer Anderson and Officer Josh Kelly
testified at this hearing. On April 6, 2015, the trial court
denied Appellant's motion. On November 23, 2015,
Appellant pleaded guilty to having a weapon while under
disability. Pursuant to a Crim.R. 11 plea agreement, the
state dismissed the remaining charge. The trial court
accepted the parties' sentence recommendation and
sentenced Appellant to two years of incarceration. This
timely appeal followed.
THE TRIAL COURT DENIED THE DEFENDANT HIS CONSTITUTIONAL
RIGHTS UNDER THE FOURTH AMENDMENT OF THE UNITED STATES
CONSTITUTION AND ARTICLE 1, SECTION 14, OF THE OHIO
CONSTITUTION, BY OVERRULING HIS MOTION TO SUPPRESS THE
EVIDENCE OBTAINED BY THE POLICE WHERE THE BASIS OF PROBABLE
CAUSE WAS INSUFFICIENT.
A motion to suppress presents mixed issues of law and fact.
State v. Lake, 151 Ohio App.3d 378, 2003-Ohio-332,
784 N.E.2d 162, ¶ 12, (7th Dist.), citing State v.
Jedd, 146 Ohio App.3d 167, 171, 765 N.E.2d 880 (4th
Dist.2001). If a trial court's findings of fact are
supported by competent, credible evidence, an appellate court
must accept them. Id. The appellate court must then
determine whether the trial court's decision met the
applicable legal standard. Id.
Appellant argues that the officers did not have a warrant to
search his truck and none of the exceptions to the warrant
requirement applied. Appellant contends that the plain view
doctrine does not apply here, as the officers were not
lawfully on his property. Appellant also argues that the
automobile exception does not apply since the truck was not
mobile at the time of the search. ...